Julian Vogels

Soundbrenner Pulse Insight

The Soundbrenner Pulse is a connected, wearable haptic metronome that vibrates to the beat instead of producing audible clicks. When I first heard about this idea, I was pretty excited, even if I had initial doubts that it would actually work.

Does it work, science?

Pianist using the Soundbrenner Pulse in practiceBecause of my academic background in Music Technology and as a drummer, I know how valuable the metronome is for music education and practice in general. Humans don’t have a very accurate sense of rhythm built-in – you need to earn it through practice. But once you got a good inner sense of rhythm, you can add rhythmic nuances to your performance, which distinguish the professional musician from the enthusiast.

Unfortunately, practicing with a traditional metronome isn’t fun. The click track constantly distracts you from what you are playing, which is why a vibrational metronome with accurate haptic feedback makes sense.

Science tells us that auditory stimulus (clicks) are perceived very fast, within a fraction of a millisecond, whereas haptic stimulus (touch or vibration) is perceived with a delay of a few milliseconds (’bout 5 or so).

Of course, that raised my eyebrow. I doubted that you could really play on the beat with only vibrations as a cue. Turns out I was wrong – it works just amazingly. A few milliseconds difference aren’t enough to really notice a difference, and the benefits outweigh the slower perception by so much.

After building and testing the early prototype, I can say that this metronome is exactly what you want as a musician. We don’t need the audible click in oder to play on the beat: it just makes you feel like a robot. The haptic cue gives you a more subtle guideline, and feels more naturally, as if someone taps on your shoulder.

It makes sense, if you think about it: Making music, we often tap our foot or move our body a bit. The feeling of the vibration integrates in that body feeling. That’s why you don’t need to focus so much as you would have to with an audible click. Focus on your music instead.

We need your support to make this new metronome a reality. If you want to be among the first to try it out, pre-oder your Soundbrenner Pulse now on Indiegogo :)

The magic of connecting things

I am excited about what we can build into our app in the future. There are so many possibilities how you can make the musician’s rhythm practice better.

A rhythm editor will make it easy to build a complex rhythm pattern. You just drag and drop subdivisions like quarter, eigth notes, sixteenths or triples around and the Soundbrenner Pulse will adjust it’s rhythm for you.

There will be straight forward rhythm exercises, with which you can practice holding your rhythm over gaps, accelerando and decellerando, complex rhythm patterns and more!

The Soundbrenner Pulse (without band)A lot of musicians are practicing and recording with music software like Ableton Live, Logic Pro or ProTools. Those DAWs can send click track information out through MIDI or OSC protocols. If we are backed by enough people on crowdfunding, we will develop a Utility app which receives the MIDI or OSC data and sends it to the Soundbrenner Pulse. It even works the other way round. You can then use the touch button and the wheel to fire tracks in Live or change the wetness of your delay effect. Unlimited possibilities.

If we are backed by even more people on Indiegogo, we plan to implement a feature called Performance Feedback. The phone listens to your practice, and as we know what rhythm you want to play, a beat tracking algorithm can figure out how close you were. That way, you can use the rhythm exercises to track your progress over time. Imagine, you could see on your phone how much better you are now that just a few weeks ago. You’d have a fitness tracker for music, which motivates you and reminds you to practice your instrument. The future has arrived. That’s the way to go if you want to become a great musician!

We need your support to build all this and revolutionize they way you learn to play! Donate and pre-order your Soundbrenner Pulse now on Indiegogo :)

  Posted by julian.vogels in Work on April 9, 2015